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Nepal harvest rush threatens 'Himalayan Viagra'

Published on Jul 31, 2012 4:21 PM
 
This file photo taken on May 29, 2007 shows three "Yarchagumba", which in Tibetan means "summer plant, winter insect" and used as a health supplement, are displayed in the palm of a hand in Kathmandu. For decades the rare fungus valued as an aphrodisiac and dubbed "Himalayan Viagra" has been a source of income for poor villagers in Nepal's remote Himalayan foothills. -- PHOTO: AFP

KATHMANDU (REUTERS) - For decades a rare fungus valued as an aphrodisiac and dubbed "Himalayan Viagra" has been a source of income for poor villagers in Nepal's remote Himalayan foothills.

Men, women and children stream into high meadows every year to harvest the fungus called Yarsagumba, which grows from dead moth larvae.

High quality specimens fetch thousands of dollars a kilo.

But experts say the fungus, found only above 3,500m, is under threat and yields are falling, threatening the livelihood of thousands of people who depend on it for up to 70 per cent of their income.

 
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